Bence Szilágyi
Barnag, Balaton, Hungary

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Bence Szilágyi makes wine in Barnag, a village in western Hungary close to Lake Balaton. Bence studied wine in Budapest and Pfalz, but his discovery of natural wine during a trip to Berlin sparked an enthusiasm which led to the creation of his own winery.

Visits to wineries with a low intervention approach and exchanges with winemakers such as Franz Weninger added to his excitement and 2017 saw the arrival of Bence’s first, unofficial vintage – an experiment of 400 bottles that would slowly grow over the following years. 

Still a relatively small producer, Bence works with around 5 hectares of grapes, half of which are vineyards he rents and farms himself while the other half are purchased grapes from a local negociant farmer; a relationship whose continuity enables Bence to build an understanding of the grapes and vineyards. Buying land in this area is almost impossible, with real estate prices driven up by the popularity of Lake Balaton as a tourist destination.

Varieties include Riesling, Furmint, Kékfrankos (known as Blaufränkisch in Austria and Lemberger in Germany), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and the vineyards are predominantly limestone. Bence takes a no-till approach, relying on naturally occurring flora as cover crop. 

His winemaking is driven largely by enthusiasm, experimentation and what he enjoys drinking. Since 2020 no sulphites have been added. The cellar was dug into limestone bedrock beneath Bence’s family house during the early days of the project but has since moved to a 200-year-old stone barn, which has been converted into a winery.

Charming and multi-talented, Bence isn’t one to sit still: alongside winemaking he runs a wine import company (Disco Wines) and a wine bar in Budapest (Bar Bizarre).

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